Has there ever been another president in U.S. history who openly places his own interests above those of the country as brazenly and unabashedly as Donald Trump does? Probably not, but right now, there are increasing signs that President Trump’s ability to skirt accountability in this regard is cracking.

You can see this happening in two big stories of the moment: a new judicial ruling allowing a lawsuit alleging Trump is serially violating the Constitution’s emoluments clause to proceed, and former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen’s willingness to spill on Trump, deepening his legal travails.

Thanks to the first of these, we now have a real chance at getting a fuller picture of Trump’s self-dealing when it comes to taking money from foreign governments. A U.S. district court judge has now ruled that discovery can proceed in a lawsuit that the attorneys general of Maryland and the District have filed against Trump. The president had tried to stall the lawsuit, but failed.

This discovery process will now entail an effort to peer into the finances of the Trump International Hotel in D.C., which has become a magnet for spending by foreign governments and dignitaries. The lawsuit alleges that by profiting in this way, Trump — who declined to divest himself of his business holdings as president — is violating the emoluments clause, which bars federal officials from taking such benefits from foreign (or state) governments unless Congress okays it.

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By Ian Dei

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